Country of origin United States
|Genre Hip hop|
Location New York City
|Distributor(s) Priority Records (1999-2002)
MCA Records (2002-2003)
Geffen Records (2004)
RED Distribution (2006-2007)|
Founders Jarret Myer, James Murdoch, Brian Brater
Artists Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Eminem, Pharoahe Monch, Black Star
Albums Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black, Train of Thought, The Beautiful Struggle, Quality, Home Field Advantage
Rawkus Records is an American hip-hop record label known for jump-starting the careers of many rappers. Rawkus started in 1995 with initial releases ranging from hip-hop, drum and bass and fun-dustrial (Dystopia One).
Label heads Brian Brater and Jarret Myer then signed some of the top underground talent from the New York area, notably Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Hi-Tek and Company Flow, who went on to define the label's sound. The string of 12" releases and full-length albums that followed helped initiate a resurgence in the New York/East Coast sound. Many of these are considered classics among hip-hop aficionados. During the mid to late 1990s, Rawkus became a dominant label in the underground hip-hop scene, producing a string of gold albums and a platinum album. Rawkus is now run by a Detroiter.
Rawkus Records was established in 1995 by Brian Brater and Jarret Myer, with financial backing from James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch. In 1999 the label entered into a distribution deal with Priority Records.
Over the years, Rawkus has recorded several notable independent hip hop artists, including Reflection Eternal, Company Flow, the High and Mighty, Mos Def and Talib Kweli (as Blackstar), Eminem, Common, Pharoahe Monch and Skillz.
In 2002, Rawkus signed a joint venture deal with MCA. Soon after, MCA folded and Interscope/Geffen bought Rawkus. After the sale of its catalog in 2004, Rawkus split from Geffen.
In 2006, Rawkus signed with RED, a Sony Music distribution company and reemerged with a new line up of notable independent hip hop artists.
In early 2007, Rawkus Records accepted album submissions from Hip Hop artists, known or unknown, to be considered for their new campaign. The 50 artists chosen to wear the Rawkus 50 badge were signed to a digital distribution deal through IODA's (Independent Online Distribution Alliance) digital distribution network and had their albums released under the banner "Rawkus 50 presents". Among the 50 were artists including Custom Made, L.E.G.A.C.Y. and Pizon.